When the Founding Fathers severed ties with England and took stock of their tattered collection of newly declared “states,” they longed for a means of creating a unified nation. None of them could have imagined in its development. But by the late 1850s, dependence on cotton money gave enormous clout to Southern secessionists, and contributed to the coming of war.

New York was the nineteenth century hub for much of American’s commerce, and cotton was no exception. A look at New York’s role in the cotton trade reveals fascinating alliances and deep bonds between North and South, built on profit and personal relations. Sothern’s claimed, with a certain changing, that 40 percent of all cotton revenues landed in New York.